We have already tested several GeForce GTX 1080 Ti models, which allows us to draw some conclusions. GeForce GTX 1080 Ti in the Founders Edition version – the video card is good, but models with an alternative cooler and / or PCB design provide quieter and more efficient cooling. But which of the video cards will be the fastest?
ZOTAC with a new model ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition promises the highest level of performance “on paper”, because the video card we get the highest base frequency and Boost. It will be interesting to see how the video card will show itself in practice.
After the announcement of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, NVIDIA partners hurried to present models with alternative cooling systems and / or PCB designs, starting the race for first place. But before the official announcement manufacturers hid clock speeds, so as not to help competitors. ZOTAC, which recently introduced the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP, held the veil of secrecy for the longest time! Extreme Edition with the highest clock speeds on the market.
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition is based on GPU GP102 from NVIDIA with 3.584 stream processors, 224 texture blocks, 88 raster pipeline pipelines and 352-bit GDDR5X memory interface, which is 11 GB. We have already tested the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition video card . Alternative models from NVIDIA partners should provide a higher level of performance due to increased clock speeds. This is facilitated by a modified PCB with a strengthened power subsystem, as well as a powerful cooling system.
We have already reviewed the new features of the video card in the review GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition . There you can find information about Tiled Caching and GDDR5X memory.
ZOTAC has increased clock speeds (base and Boost) compared to Founders Edition. The base frequency was increased from 1.480 to 1.645 MHz. The minimum level of Boost frequency was increased from 1.582 MHz to 1.759 MHz. It will be interesting to see if the graphics card can work stably on such frequencies under load. Memory GDDR5X was dispersed slightly, from 1.375 to 1.400 MHz. The memory bandwidth has increased from 484 to 492.8 GB / s. All other details of the architectures are identical to any GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.
In addition to the video card ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition, we tested a few more models. Below are links to reviews.
Before we proceed to review the video card, let me introduce the GPU frequencies under load. The mechanism of Boost provides a certain dynamics, so it is important to evaluate the performance of the video card under different loads.
The maximum Boost frequency is affected by several factors. Power consumption, voltage, temperature and BIOS settings. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition heat package is increased to 320 watts. So the video card hardly rests on the limit on power consumption. As for the voltage, the manufacturers of video cards are unlikely to significantly influence, NVIDIA exposes different voltages for the GPU, depending on the quality of the crystal. In the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, the voltages are in the range between 1.0 and 1.05 V. The third important aspect is the temperature. The maximum temperature is 69 ° C, so with cooling problems, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition does not occur, the temperature is not a limiting factor. As a result, the video card operates at Boost frequencies from 1.961 to 1.987 MHz. The maximum frequency is 13 MHz higher than the competitor Inno3D. The limiting factor here is the voltage, since the Boost mechanism does not allow it to be set above 1.05 V.
On the next page, we’ll look at the video card in more detail.
Before we look at the video card from all angles, let me quote the most important technical specifications of the video card and cooler.
According to only the dimensions of the video card ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition can be called a graphic monster. Length 325 mm exceeds the ATX specification by several millimeters. PCB is slightly shorter – 295 mm. The thickness of the card is 2.5 slots. Basically, on the basis of two such video cards it is possible to assemble the SLI system, if they are appropriate in the case.
With the video card GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ZOTAC slightly updated the color of its products, although the forms remained the same. Now the video card is allocated, mainly, in black and gray shades, but it looks still simple. The front is dominated by three axial fans with a diameter of 90 mm.
Behind the ZOTAC video card there is a metal plate covering the entire PCB. In some places, ZOTAC has left holes – it is likely that heat does not collect under the aluminum panel. Also from the rear you can see the two components, on which we will dwell in detail below.
Three fans have a diameter of 90 mm. Under load, the rotation speed reached 1.680 rpm, the GPU temperature was 69 ° C. So the fans rotated faster than, for example, the video card Inno3D iChill GeForce GTX 1080 Ti X3 Edition . Three fans start to rotate only when the GPU heats up to 50 ° C. Then the speed slowly increases to the above 1.680 rpm.
If the load on the GPU is reduced, then the fan speed will start to drop. They completely stop when the GPU has cooled to 46 ° C. A range between 46 and 50 ° C is required so that the fans do not work in a continuous cycle of untwisting / stopping at moderate load. In the past, ZOTAC had some problems with the fans, which were periodically switched on for short periods of time. ZOTAC was able to correct this deficiency, and the fans start to rotate at low speed, which is not so noticeable.
Like all GeForce GTX 1080 Ti video cards, the ZOTAC model has two SLI connectors. They allow you to combine up to four video cards into a multi-GPU system. However, most often in SLI use two video cards, especially given their high price.
Moreover, under most DirectX 12 SLI games, only two GPUs are supported. Although some games and tests will support more graphics processors. As for the SLI HD bridges, we already looked at them in detail in our review of the first video card on Pascal architecture.
Additional power is supplied via two 8-pin connectors. Together with the PCI Express slot we get power up to 375 watts according to specifications. However, in practice, the connectors can provide much more power. ZOTAC put out a heat package of 320 watts, so the set of power interfaces will be enough.
Unlike previous versions of the cooler, ZOTAC did not add bright colors. From the end of the video card you can see only the logos of ZOTAC and GeForce. You can see and translucent inserts, which are involved in the RGB-illumination of the video card.
On a slot stub, it’s clear that ZOTAC decided to return the Dual-Link DVI interface. NVIDIA removed it from the Founders Edition models to improve cooling. In addition, three outputs are available DisplayPort 1.3 / 1.4 and one HDMI 2.0b.
The PCB area over the slot plug prepared a small surprise. Namely the USB port and the small button. ZOTAC on the site does not give any information about these interfaces. But, as we learned, the USB port and button are used for internal testing – for example, for firmware BIOS of the video card. The consumer is denied access to both components.
As you can see from the back of the video card, the cooler is exposed outside the PCB. ZOTAC bent the back plate 90 degrees to cover the video card. You can also see copper heat pipes and an aluminum radiator.
Only after removing the radiator you can see what components it cools. But, as you can see from the side, the cooler of the video card ZOTAC draws heat not only from the GPU, but also from other chips. Green heat-conducting pads are used.
Heat pipes leave from the base of the cooler to the right radiator. They transfer the heat allocated by the GPU to the radiator. On the right you can see another small radiator that removes heat from the VRM components.
If you look closely at the video card from the back, you pay attention to two large components, located between the GPU and the power subsystem. In this case, we have capacitors that provide stable power even under extreme loads. For daily work, they are hardly needed, but extreme cooling and extreme overclocking impose very different requirements.
The ZOTAC logo is illuminated with RGB-LEDs, which allows you to choose different colors. You can also select different effects through the Firestorm utility.
Also ZOTAC added LED for two 8-pin power connectors. It lights up red if the power is not connected or the power is insufficient. If the connection is correct, the LED lights green.
LED-illumination is not interesting to everyone, but today it is increasingly found among high-end components. ZOTAC named its system of illumination SPECTRA LED Lightning System, three zones of illumination and 16,7 million shades are accessible.
To control the backlight and other functions of the video card, ZOTAC offers the Firestorm utility. It offers a wide range of features, including overclocking options.
RGB-backlight ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition consists of three zones, which can be controlled separately. You can choose not only the color, but also the brightness. Different effects are available. But the lighting can be completely turned off.
Of course, we decided to remove the cooler from the video card ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition. ASUS also chose a PCB of its own design, although in the case of the Inno3D and Caseking graphics cards, we get a reference layout. The increase in PCB height is clearly visible. You can also see the curved parts of the back plate of the video card in the back and top.
The video card is based on the GPU GP102. However, behind a thick layer of thermal grease, it’s problematic to make out markings. Excessive thermal grease follows from all sides. On PCB ZOTAC there are contact pads for the 12th chip memory.
The power subsystem of the GPU, memory and PCI Express interface is based on 14 phases. Silver components are throttles, one phase for each phase. The same goes for round capacitors. Under a small radiator, VRM components are hidden.
At the rear of the PCB are important components of the power subsystem, with the main power provided by two 8-pin sockets. Just behind the power connectors you can see three chokes, and a little further – three shunts with low resistance. They are needed to measure current. You can also see the VRM and backlight controllers.
We have already mentioned the role of two large capacitors behind the PCB. Otherwise, you can see where the components of the power subsystem are installed from the front of the video card.
After removing the cooler, points of direct voltage measurement are visible. They are located on the front side of the video card, above the area with a GPU and memory chips. We could not decipher the notation for the measurement points, but we sent a ZOTAC request.
ZOTAC used two small passive radiators to cool the VRM power subsystem. Like NVIDIA Founders Edition, ZOTAC installed two MOSFETs per phase. You can see the drivers behind them. The second small radiator cools another two phases, the total number of which is 16.
In the photo you can see the individual components of the power subsystem. From top to bottom: capacitors, chokes, two MOSFETs and a MOSFET driver.
From the back end of the video card there are two connectors for connecting the RGB-illuminated cooler. The smaller connector is responsible for highlighting the ZOTAC logo on the end. A wider interface is behind the backlighting on the front side of the video card, which is divided into two zones.
As you can see, ZOTAC used a copper base to contact the GPU. It is surrounded by an aluminum plate that cools memory chips. ZOTAC did not use thermal grease for them, being content with heat-conducting gaskets. The same goes for the other components.
Six copper heat pipes transfer heat from the copper base to the aluminum radiator. Two heat pipes have a diameter of 8 mm, the remaining four – 4 mm. They pass through the copper base of the cooler, but they do not directly contact the GPU. Even ASUS refused to directly contact the heat pipes with the new ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cooler, which proved to be better than its predecessor.
Let’s pass to an estimation of noise level, power consumption and temperature.
In the idle mode, three ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition stops, the video card works absolutely noiselessly. This function is no longer unique, many other high-end video cards do not work in idle mode either.
Under load, three fans rotate at a speed of up to 1.680 rpm. That is, even slightly faster than the fans of video cards Inno3D and ASUS. The noise level does not always directly correlate with the rotation speed, but the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition we got a result of 41 dB (A), which is slightly higher than the competition. But we would not name an excessively loud video card.
In the mode of inactivity, the temperature of the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition was 39 ° C – quite typical level. When the load is removed, the GPU temperature drops rapidly, but at 46 ° C the fans stop, so the GPU is cooled to a specified temperature much slower.
More importantly, under load, the GPU temperature remains rather low – 69 ° C.Although the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 Ti OC graphics card still slightly cools the GPU, it is important to achieve the optimum balance between temperature, noise level and performance. The GPU temperature still remains in the “green” zone, the Boost mechanism does not reduce clock frequencies due to overheating.
In idle mode, we did not find any deviations in power consumption. Since GPUs consume a few watts in idle mode, the difference between video cards is small. In any case, it is hardly worthwhile to justify the choice of a video card based on this criterion.
Under load, the power consumption of our system was quite high – 438.2 watts. However, NVIDIA for Founders Edition indicates a heat package of up to 250 watts, and ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition can theoretically consume more than 300 watts. However, in practice, the video card hardly achieves peak power consumption without manual overclocking. With high power consumption, you can accept it if we get the corresponding increase in performance in games. We will talk about this just below.
With the connection of several monitors, there were no problems. Energy consumption slightly increases, but nothing serious.
The graphics card Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition already works at high clock speeds, we tested it in this mode. But we also decided to squeeze out extra performance. We managed to overclock the Founders Edition video card to 2.038 MHz. We used the EVGA Precision Tool. First, we manually increased the speed of the fans to reduce the temperature of the GPU. Then we set the bar of power consumption by 120%, so that the graphics card does not rest on maximum power. In the case of 320 W, indicated by ZOTAC, the theoretical maximum power consumption was 384 W. But it’s unlikely that the video card will reach it. The standard GPU Boost mechanism is limited to a maximum voltage of 1.05 V, which is the limiting factor.
We were able to achieve a stable GPU frequency of 2.065 MHz. As for memory, the overclocking was 1.475 MHz. As a result, we get the overclocking level of 17.4% compared to the ZOTAC specifications, but only 3.9% when compared with the Boost frequency in practice.
Below are the results of the tests after overclocking.
The battle for the fastest graphics card is won, has not it started yet? We asked ourselves this question when the most high-speed versions of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti started to arrive at the editorially early enough. The graphics card Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FE was running at a clock speed of almost 1.900 MHz, using the reference PCB Founders Edition. But thanks to the water cooling potential, we easily increased the GPU frequency to 2.100-2.150 MHz. As for the air-cooled video cards from Inno3D and ASUS, in the standard mode they showed about 1.950 MHz. Probably, other high-end video cards will work with the same level.
How do manufacturers compete for the fastest graphics card on the market? Many people prefer to specify high standard clock frequencies, so that in the online price lists the video card should be the first. This risk was taken by ZOTAC, specifying the specifications of 1.645 and 1.759 MHz, we get the highest level of the nominal frequencies on the market. But ZOTAC does not have the option to select GPU when ordering from NVIDIA, NVIDIA also does not select the chips. ZOTAC has to buy a GPU with the memory, install it on the PCB, then conduct its own tests and distribute the video cards to the AMP categories! Extreme Edition or just AMP! Edition. Thus, ZOTAC separates the seeds from the chaff. However, “normal” video cards can not be called “bad” either, since even for slow chips, frequencies of 1.569 and 1.683 MHz are claimed.
With our test sample, ZOTAC was able to keep its promises. We get the fastest graphics card if we remove the models that are oriented to self-overclocking by the user – the same Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FE. But the difference is very small, a high-end video card often separated one frequency domain, that is, 13 MHz. Due to inaccuracies and fluctuations in a number of tests, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP did not come first; Extreme Edition, and competitors ASUS or Inno3D. Therefore, it is rather difficult to choose an unambiguous winner. But if you look only at clock speeds, then ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition is indeed the fastest model in the lineup – until other manufacturers announce video cards with the same or higher frequencies. In principle, with alternative PCB designs and water cooling, no one prevents them from doing so.
To achieve high frequencies Boost, the limiting levels of energy consumption and temperatures are important. With regard to power consumption, ZOTAC has increased the Power Limit bar from 250 to 320 watts. This step provides enough potential for the video card to work at high clock speeds, speed is not limited to power consumption. In the second parameter, ZOTAC also achieved its goal, the GPU cooled below the bar of 70 ° C. That is, the video card’s performance is not limited by temperature. The third parameter that affects the Boost frequency is the GPU voltage. The nominal voltage level can vary depending on the quality of the GPU, since not all GPUs reach the specified frequencies at the same voltage level. Each video card behaves differently. At our test sample with a voltage of 1.05 V in the nominal mode, the frequencies were increased to 1.987 MHz.
In the idle mode, ZOTAC turns off the fans, the fan speed curve is set and the temperature levels can be called quite reasonable. That is, the fans do not go into an endless cycle of spinup / shutdown every few seconds. In idle mode, the video card operates silently. But to get the maximum speed in the games, ZOTAC had to make some compromises. In particular, the fans work a little louder than competitors, the speed is up to 1.680 rpm. So the video card can be called not only the fastest GeForce GTX 1080 Ti in the test lab, but also the noisiest. However, the difference in noise level is small, as well as in performance. Therefore, the buyer is free to decide what is more important to him.
In any case, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will not become an economical solution. ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition consumes a lot. But given the high performance with power consumption, you can accept it. We will not mention the highlight again, let the buyers decide how important it is for them. If the backlight is not needed, it can be easily turned off.
There remains the issue of price. Video cards GeForce GTX 1080 Ti with alternative designs and / or cooling systems are retailed from 750 euros . But these are video cards without significant factory overclocking. Model Founders Edition will cost from 760 euros. For the graphics card ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition in Europe will have to give away 939 euros , which hardly looks reasonable. But, as in the case of premium components, the buyer is free to decide whether he will pay a round sum for the fastest graphics card or not.